Monday, July 23, 2007

In memoriam: Mike Coolbaugh

There is a reason I don't like to sit down the baselines at baseball games.

My sisters lost a friend last night. Mike Coolbaugh was killed after being hit in the head neck by a line drive foul ball (8/11/07 - according to the coroner, Coolbaugh was struck behind the left ear, which ruptured an artery; nothing the paramedics could have done would have saved Coolie's life). Coolbaugh, the hitting coach for the Tulsa Drillers, was acting as first base coach and was unable to get out of the way of the foul ball in time. My sisters knew Coolie from his time at Round Rock. He claimed he couldn't remember their names, but apparently that was just Coolie being Coolie. He could always make my sisters laugh. One of my sisters wrote that her heart aches at the loss of her friend, and my other sister feel the same way.

Mike leaves behind his wife, Mandy, his sons, Joseph & Jacob (who I recall seeing with Coolie out on the field after games) and a third child due in October.

I also can't begin to imagine what Tino Sanchez must be feeling. Every ballplayer hits foul balls down the line, or hits a line drive back at the pitcher. But no one is supposed to die when that happens - I have seen first and third base coaches dodge foul balls more times than I can count. This was a tragic accident, but Tino will have to come to terms with the fact that it was his foul ball that took the life of a good man.

Round Rock has a home game tonight. I can't help but wonder what they will do to acknowledge the untimely death of a former Express player. In 2005, his last season with the Express, he had hit 27 home runs and had 101 RBI, was named a PCL All-Star, and was the Astros' Triple-A MVP for the season, then he broke his wrist and spent the rest of that season (about a month??) on the DL. Coolie was a fan favorite. I can't imagine tonight's game will happen without some sort of remembrance.


The San Antonio native leaves behind two sons, Joseph, 5, and Jacob, 3, and his wife, Amanda, who is expecting their third child in October. A collection will be taken up for the Coolbaugh family at the homeplate and right field gate entrances of The Dell Diamond prior to Monday night’s game between Round Rock and Oklahoma.

All donations collected will go directly to a fund set up for the family at Spirit Bank in Tulsa, Okla. In addition, all fine money from the Texas League, plus an additional $1,000 for each of the league’s eight teams, will go towards the fund.

Update II:

Lamson [ed. - Tulsa Drillers President] also announced that the Drillers and Spirit Bank have set up a memorial fund to benefit the Coolbaugh family. Checks can be made payable to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund and sent to:

Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund
c/o Spirit Bank
1800 S. Baltimore Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74119

Donations can also be made in person at any Tulsa area Spirit Bank location.

All proceeds collected will go directly to the Coolbaugh family. Spirit Bank began the fund with a $5,000 donation.

The Drillers game scheduled for Monday night in Wichita has been postponed by the Texas League. A decision will be made later on when the team’s next game will be played.

Funeral arrangements for Coolbaugh are still pending.

Update III:

Local news coverage from the Austin American-Statesman

Update IV (7/24):

My sisters are doing okay. Last night at the ballpark, they were around others who knew Coolie and called him a friend. Last night's promotion was "Christmas in July", but severe weather first delayed and ultimately resulted in it being postponed until a future date. Weird thing? At the time they cancelled the game, the radar was looking pretty nasty. After they made the official announcement, the weather cleared up. My sisters are convinced Coolie had something to do with it - that he didn't want people having to play and be sad. The Express still have many staff and players who knew Coolie, in particular: Jackie Moore, the manager, Brooks Conrad (2B), Barry Wesson (outfielder), Danny Klassen (infielder) and Travis Driskill (reliever/closer). I just don't think everyone would have had their head in the game, had it not been called. The local news had stories about Coolie last night, some with interviews with management and/or players.

Today's paper has a very nice write-up:
"He loved this game," said Express second baseman Brooks Conrad, who played with Coolbaugh. "He just could not get enough of it. I could go on and on about him. Bottom line, I'm going to think about him the rest of my life."

Update V:

Mike Coolbaugh's funeral will be Monday, July 30th at 10:30am. The funeral Mass will be at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 8134 Blanco Road, San Antonio, Texas. Visitation will be Sunday, July 29th from 4:00pm to 6:00pm at Porter Loring Mortuary North, 2102 North Loop 1604 East, also in San Antonio.

From the Express article:

A collection will be taken up for the Coolbaugh family at the homeplate and right field gate entrances of The Dell Diamond prior to Round Rock’s Aug. 3 game between Round Rock and Colorado Springs [ed. - the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies; the Tulsa Drillers are the Rockies' Double-A affiliate; at least one Sky Sox player, Mike Gallo, was an Express teammate of Coolbaugh]. In addition, there will be one final passing of the hat to remember Coolbaugh and to accept donations for his family.

All donations collected will go directly to a fund set up for the family at Spirit Bank in Tulsa, Okla. Checks can be made payable to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund and may be sent to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund, c/o Spirit Bank, 1800 S. Baltimore Ave., Tulsa, OK 74119. In addition, all fine money from the Texas League, plus an additional $1,000 for each of the league’s eight teams, will go towards the fund. The Nolan Ryan Foundation and Spirit Bank have each donated $5,000 to the fund.

I like the choice of the Friday night game, since this should result in a higher turnout, and a larger outpouring from fans, than if they had chosen to do this for the first game of the series on August 1st. I anticipate that they will also use this game to make the tribute intended for last night's postponed game. I didn't know Coolie, but from everything I've read, and things I've heard "through the grapevine", the world is a lesser place without Coolie in it, not because he was some baseball great, but because of the kind of man that he was.

Update VI:

"What has for years been a tradition in minor league baseball will now become a tribute to baseball veteran Mike Coolbaugh for the remainder of the 2007 Round Rock Express season.

When Round Rock returns home on Aug. 1, the team will begin a stretch of 20 home games in 34 days. Every time an Express player hits a home run, the traditional helmet will be passed around The Dell Diamond seating bowl. Only now, all of the money placed into the helmet will be donated to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund.


The passing of the helmet has long been a staple of the minor leagues. After a home-team player hits a homerun, his helmet is passed around the crowd and stuffed with dollar bills. Round Rock has hit 42 home runs at The Dell Diamond this season."

Update VII:

Mike Coolbaugh: The Tributes

Update VIII:

Round Rock Express' Tribute to Mike Coolbaugh

Update IX (10/4/07):

Why the Rockies should win the World Series

Friday, July 13, 2007

Not the usual trip to the dentist

I found this story while checking out the headlines at It's this kind of risk that always made my mother only let the dentist use a local whenever I or my siblings had certain dental work done.

I've been going to the dentist pretty much as far back as I can remember, likely beginning in San Antonio when I was maybe 5 years old. Back then, it was just the standard cleaning. As I got older, there were the typical cavities to be filled. I always got irritated that I brushed better than my older brother, but he never had as many cavities as I did. Then, I had to have braces and something called a "tongue crib" to help correct a bit of an overbite (the dentist - a fabulous pediatric dentist) thought I had been a thumbsucker when I was little, but that was not the case. Over the years, I went to the dentist regularly.

When I was in junior high, my mom had to have her impacted wisdom teeth removed. The dentist told my mom that her kids could likely have the same problem with their wisdom teeth later in life, and to consider having us coming in to have them removed. So, I first had one removed. Oral surgery - my wisdom teeth had not yet erupted, so the oral surgeon had to cut through my gum to remove it. Local, so I was awake for the whole thing. This dentist did good work, and the only thing that bothered me during the procedure was opening my eyes and seeing a needle on a suture coming out of my mouth... Later, I didn't have fun times with the narcotic they prescribed for the pain - made me feel like my head was being squeezed in a vice...

The next time I had the oral surgery, I had an appointment with a different dentist (I was an Army dependent and went to military dentists, so you didn't always see the same one every time). They decided to take all three remaining wisdom teeth at the same time. Nothing like hearing the dentist ask his assistant for a bone file and hearing lots of cracking and crumbling taking place in your mouth. Somewhere, we have that first wisdom tooth that was removed. There wasn't any tooth to give me after that second oral surgery...

My brother wimped out after one wisdom tooth being removed...

Anyway, like the young man in the news story, I don't breath through my nose. Whenever I was having the work done to correct my overbite, the dentist would take molds of my teeth. I had the hardest time with that: I had to think about my breathing, and breath through my nose while the mold was being taken - otherwise, trying to breath "normally", through my mouth, I would start to gag on the mold form. I never considered that being a mouth-breather might be a problem had I ever been put under general anesthesia for dental work. Just something to think about...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

My letter to Rep. Doggett on his Yea vote on H.R. 2956

Representative Doggett,

I see that you voted in favor of defeat in Iraq today. So long as this is your position, you will not have my support in 2008.

What do you really think will happen if US forces leave Iraq before their government and its security forces are capable to defending themselves and the ordinary Iraqis who want nothing more than to live in peace and raise their families?

Bin Laden has said himself that Iraq is the main front in his jihad against the United States and the West. To leave before Iraq is capable of taking care of itself would to be to hand Al Qaeda a victory on a silver platter, and no one anywhere in the world would ever trust a promise made by America ever again. With your withdrawal deadline, you would confirm Bin Laden's belief that America is nothing but a Paper Tiger, a nation who does not have the stomach for a long war.

We are not losing the war militarily. We are losing the information war. American media report enemy propaganda as fact, yet they report our military's successes either begrudgingly or not at all. You need to listen to the commanders on the ground, not the latest polls. Just because something isn't popular doesn't make it wrong. Just because something is popular doesn't make it right.

Do the right thing. Support our troops by supporting their mission. Do not undermine them and make their job more difficult by sending a message to our enemies that all they have to do is wait us out. I do hope you will rethink your position and do the right thing - vote for Victory in Iraq, not assured defeat by setting arbitrary requirements and deadlines.


Miss Ladybug

Happy Birthday, Kile

Today would have been Kile's 24th birthday. At the time of Kile's funeral, his family requested that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made into one of two memorial funds they had set up. Give Kile a birthday present by making a contribution.

The 1st Lt. Kile West Memorial Fund (Austin Area Benefits)
Regions Bank, P.O. Box 249,
Hutto, TX 78634, account #8457016247.

These funds will be utilized to provide a welcome home party for his men when they return as well as provide scholarships for deserving Hutto High School students.

Kile Grant West Memorial Scholarship (Houston Area Benefits)
% San Jacinto College Foundation
4624 Fairmont Parkway, Suite 208
Pasadena TX 77504
(281) 998-6104

These funds will be utilized to provide scholarships for deserving students to attend San Jacinto College in the Houston Area.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America

This afternoon, shortly before I headed out to my part-time job, I learned that Lady Bird Johnson had passed away within the previous hour at the age of 94. I decided now might be an appropriate time to review a biography about her that I had purchased while working on an interdisciplinary unit for one of my classes: Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers written by Kathi Appelt and illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein.

I actually purchased my copied (signed by both the author and the illustrator) at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in South Austin. The Wildflower Center was founded by the former First Lady and Helen Hayes, the actress, in 1982 as the National Wildflower Research Center. The Center moved to its current location in 1995 and was renamed in Lady Bird's honor in 1997. Last year, it became part of the University of Texas at Austin. I never went there when it first opened - I moved away just a year later, but I've been several times in the past 3 years. The best time to go is in the spring when the Texas bluebonnets are in bloom. Currently, the Center's home page has a tribute to Mrs. Johnson, which concludes:

"Lady Bird Johnson's Family has expressed Mrs. Johnson's personal desire for memorials to be made to The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Endowment Fund. You endowment contribution is a sustaining gift that will help the Wildflower Center continue Mrs. Johnson's vision for conserving the beauty of the American Landscape."

Now, on to the book...

The book is wonderfully and colorfully illustrated - it helps bring to life Lady Bird's love of flowers:

"She loves the bright California poppies, the wild prairie roses of Iowa, and the thick bluebonnets of Texas, all of which grow along the highways of our great country.

There was a time when our roadsides were ugly. They were cluttered with billboards, rusted old cars, and miles of trash.

They might still be this way if not for the woman we know as Lady Bird Johnson."

As with most biographies, this one gives us the facts of when and where Claudia Alta Taylor was born. Also, we learn that she came to be known as "Lady Bird" because her nanny said, "She's as purty as a lady bird," a lady bird being "the name of the colorful and lively beetle" native to that area in East Texas.

We learn that young Lady Bird lost her mother three months before her sixth birthday. Lady Bird had a lonely childhood, living in the big house outside of Karnack. A neighbor told young Lady Bird a story about her mother, Minnie, dressed in white, holding a bouquet of bluebonnets, and running barefoot down the path to meet Lady Bird's father, TJ. "The vision soothed Lady Bird, and every time she saw a bluebonnet, it filled her with a sense of being loved."

TJ owned a general store and would have to take Lady Bird with him to the store when he had to work late, and would put her to bed in the upstairs room, but he didn't like raisig his daughter this way, so he sent for her Aunt Effie.

Aunt Effie taught Lady Bird an appreciation of nature. As she got older, she would spend her free time in the forest near her home. "As much as she loved the forest, though, Lady Bird yearned to explore the world beyond its tall trees, beyond the walls of the Brick House."

At the age of 18, she did something uncommon for young women at the time: she went off to college, becoming a student at The University of Texas at Austin. While in Austin, she met Lyndon Baines Johnson, and married him in November 1934.

Once her husband became a Congressman, she came to serve as a tour guide around Washington, D.C., taking visitors to its monuments and museums.

"However, as she became familiar with the city, she noticed the dismal parks that were nothing more than concrete slabs, the dirty streets and shabby lawns, the unkempt and weedy shores of the filthy Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. Remembering how beautiful flowers and trees had helped her thrive, she worried about children growing up with only cement and asphalt beneath their feet."

When she had children of her own, she made sure she had a flower garden for them, but she wanted all children to be able to have flowers.

The book tactfully deals with the death of President Kennedy. The illustration here is of the funeral cortege in Arlington National Cemetery, complete with caparisoned horse following the caisson. But, that event propels Lady Bird into a new role - First Lady.

"One of Lady Bird's first responsibilities in her new position was to help her country begin to heal.

She knew from her own experience that beauty would help the country recover. Thanks to her boundless energy, and with the urging of the president, the Highway Beautification Act was passed by Congress. Because of that law the landscapes along the interstate highways of our great land were cleared of signs and rusted cars. The roadsides were blanketed in native wildflowers.

In the capital itself, more cherry trees were planted, trees that filled the city with blossoms every spring. Best of all, a million daffodils were planted along the Potomac River, just like the ones that Lady Bird dubbed "princess" when she was a little girl."

After returning to the Texas hill country, she began to make improvements on the ranch by planting the overgrazed fields with native wildflowers: "Indian blankets and Indian paintbrush, bluebells, purple horsemint, and especially bluebonnets."

Not long after returning from Washington, in 1973, her husband passed away, and "once again her house felt empty." She again turned to her wildflowers. Out admiring the wildflowers with a friend one evening, Lady Bird first heard a tractor, and then saw a farmer mowing down the wildflowers in his field. Lady Bird confronted him, finally forcing him to stop by standing in front of the tractor. He said he needed to plant hay to make a living. On the spot, Lady Bird had an idea: "I'll pay you for your wildflower seeds." They made a deal.

The book also tells us about the Wildflower Center which Lady Bird helped create.

"There scientists study the uses and effects of wildflowers. They also collect and preserve seeds of those flowers on the brink of extinction.

When asked why she helped found the center, Lady Bird told reporters that it was her way of 'paying rent for the space I have taken up in this highly interesting world.'"

The book closes with a reminder to thank Lady Bird whenever we drive down our now beautified roadways.

At the back of the book, readers are challenged to find the wildflowers illustrated there in the other illustrations within the book. Also, the final page is "Miss Lady Bird's Legacy" - the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center:

"it resides on 284 acres just south of Austin, Texas [ed: it used to be "south of Austin", but is now surrounded by housing developments resulting from Austin's growth over the last decades]. Nestled in the heart of the Texas hills, the center's mission is 'to educate people about the environmental necessity, economic value, and natural beauty of native plants.'


The Wildflower Center serves as a living laboratory. Even though it is located in Texas, its impact is nationwide. Scientists from across the country conduct research there in landscape restoration, plant conservation, horticulture, and environmental education. Mrs. Johnson stated, 'Wildflowers and native plants are as much a part of our national heritage as Old Faithful or the Capitol building.'"

I would recommend this book (recommended for chilren ages 7 to 10) for any children's library, personal, classroom or public. Although it is about the life of one of this nation's First Ladies, politics does not enter into the story, and the message is a positive one.

How to fix the immigration problem, Part 1

Below is a letter I sent to my Senators. A slightly modified version went to my Representative. Unfortunately, I had to point out to my Representative that it disturbed me that "immigration/border security" was not an option as an issue on his webform... Guess that tells me how important he considers that issue... I'll likely modify it again and send it to the President (fat lot of good THAT will likely do, too).

While the immediate fight over the, thankfully, failed "comprehensive immigration reform" is finished, the problems with our immigration system and the flood of illegal immigrants entering the United States continue. To that end, I want to make sure you were aware of the statistics and forecasts of even legal immigration, as reported by In reading some commentary on the immigration/amnesty issue this evening, someone posted the following link:

This video is from a presentation about the trends of US population growth - both from American citizens (baseline 1970 population, with historic and projected population replacement rates) and legal immigrants. If left at present, unheathly levels, legal immigration with irrevocably change the nature of our Republic. We need to return to 1965 levels of legal immigration, and it would please me to see my Senators take the lead on this issue.

Also, we need to begin addressing the issues that have made our nation an magnet for illegal immigration. In addition to my Federal government enforcing existing laws for exterior and interior immigration/border enforcement, we MUST reinterpret the reading of the 14th Amendment - we cannot allow persons here illegally to produce anchor babies that further complicate the issue of illegal immigration. The purpose Section 1 was to make former slaves into United States citizens. Since we no longer have former slaves in this nation, this part of the 14th Amendment has long outlived its usefulness and should be amended to state that only children of citizens can be granted United States citizenship. Becoming a citizen of this nation is a Privilege, not a Right. Again, I would be very pleased if my Senators would take the lead on this issue.

By no means are these two ideas all that I think needs to be done to fix our broken immigration system, but I do not want to see another "comprehensive" solution. We need to take it one piece at a time, and let each proposal stand on its own merits. To enforce laws Congress has previously enacted is no less than the American public should expect and really should not be considered "an idea"; To begin removing the incentives to illegal immigration is also no less than the American public should expect. I trust you would put the welfare of the American public before all other considerations in the pursuit of protecting the promise that is the United States of America.


Miss Ladybug

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Auction benefitting Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund raises more than $6000

I followed up on the Round Rock Express autographed, game-worn Patriotic jerseys that were put up for auction on June 26th. The auction ended on July 3rd. By my calculations, the twenty-nine jerseys netted $6,206.29:

Matt Albers, $230.02
Josh Anderson, $177.50
Danny Ardoin, $205.00
Miguel Asencio, $131.75
Philip Barzilla, $205.02
Brooks Conrad, $330.00
Travis Driskill, $132.50
Paul Estrada, $105.00
Jesse Garcia, $132.50
Jared Gothreaux, $175.50
Juan Gutierrez, $105.00
Burt Hooten, $760.00
Norberto "Cookie" Ibarra, $102.50
Danny Klassen, $192.50
Jason Lane, $215.50
Mike Rodriguez, $145.50
Mark McLemore, $215.50
Ron "Papa Jack" Jackson, $127.50
Chan Ho Park, $280.00
Humberto Quintero, $300.00
Tim Raines, Jr., $197.50
Cody Ransom, $212.50
Chad Reineke, $205.00
Jose Rodriguez, $122.50
Mark Saccomanno, $265.00
Danny Schaeffer, $202.50
Jackie Moore, $260.00
Beau Torbert, $217.50
Barry Wesson, $255.00

Thanks to the Express management for sponsoring the auction, and thanks to everyone who placed bids on the jerseys - every single one of them sold...

Victor Davis Hanson: The Revolt on Illegal Immigration

I read something today that VDH wrote about the real reason why the latest "comprehensive immigration reform" legislation was defeated. It wasn't because of talk radio, or conservative bloggers, or racist xenophobes - it was because so many regular Americans were against it, and made their voices heard to their "representives" in the Senate. He did a much better job of putting into words what I think:

If the American public wants the border closed first, and discussion of everything else later, is that really such a bad thing?

Were the government to enforce laws already passed - fine employers for hiring illegal aliens, actually build the approved fences, beef up the border patrol, issue verifiable identification - we would then soon be dealing with a static population of illegal aliens. And that pool would insidiously shrink, not annually grow.

Some of the 12 million here illegally would willingly return home. Some with criminal records could be deported. Some would marry U.S. citizens. Some could be given work visas. Some could apply for earned citizenship.

The point is that our formidable powers of assimilation would finally catch up and have time to work on a population that would be at last fixed, quantifiable and identifiable. As aliens were more readily integrated with the general citizen population, Spanish would evolve into a helpful second, not a single alternate, language. Wages would rise for workers already here - many of them soon to be Mexican-American citizens - without competition from a perpetual influx of illegal aliens who work more cheaply.

Go read the whole thing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day 2007!


I had a good Fourth of July. My dad barbequed burgers and hot dogs. I got to hand out little American flags to people - most everyone smiled and seemed quite pleased, and I was even saluted by one guy who said "I've done this before...". I got to see some new soldiers taking the Oath of Enlistment prior to the First Pitch. I sang, along with everyone else at the ballpark, the National Anthem, before the game. More "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch. I got to watch a baseball game - the Express won 9-8 over the Omaha Royals. I also got to wish a 93-year-young WWII vet named Joe a Happy Birthday. After the game, there was a big fireworks display, too. All in all, good times.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Movies I want to see: The Bourne Ultimatum

I saw the first one, The Bourne Identity, the summer of 2002. After that, I decided to read the books. Then, I saw the second movie, The Bourne Supremacy, when it came out in 2004. Anxiously awaiting the release of the third installment. I do have some issues with them changing things from the books (like killing characters off in the movies that don't die in the book, and adding completely new characters that weren't in the book at all), but they do that with lots of adaptations, like they did with Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Art I like: Sir Frank Dicksee's LaBelle Dame sans Merci

I popped in on FbL tonight, and she posted a painting that caught her eye today. I didn't know the artist, but I guessed it might be one of the Pre-Raphaelites. I was incorrect (her artist was French and the Pre-Raphaelites were English, but the era is about right...). Anyhow, I thought I'd post one of my favorites. It is LaBelle Dame sans Merci by Sir Frank Dicksee. The first time I saw a print of it, I had to have it. It stayed rolled up in its tube for a while (custom framing for a print that big wasn't cheap...), but it has long since been framed and looked great hanging on the wall in my living room in my house in Arkansas. Unfortunately, that framed print is currently in storage until I get settled into a new place after I know where I'll be teaching this fall.

All I know is, I'd love to be the woman on that horse, and have my very own Knight in Shining Armor looking at me that way...

Another artist paints portraits of the fallen

I got an email today from my high school government teacher. It just suggested I watch the video that was the accompanying link.

The video tells the story of a woman in Utah who paints portraits of the fallen and sends them to the hero's family. She will accept no payment from those families. Kaziah Hancock's work can fetch $1000 per piece, so this is quite a gift she has been giving to those left behind. As with Mr. K, I'll just suggest you watch this video.